Is the United States in decline? You would certainly think so from the publishers’ lists, although some of the new books, written by determined neoconservatives resisting indictment for complicity in causing the decline, such as Robert Kagan, are arguing that it’s only a very little decline, and temporary, and will end in November when the teapot boils. Certainly President Barack Obama forswears declinism. Anyone who says that America is in decline, “or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they are talking about,” he said in his State of the Union address.
Well, actually, the only people who can really say that are those who haven’t been to Europe or the major Asian states recently, where everything works beautifully, even if Europe’s debts are not paid off. The 200 mph trains that crisscross Europe not only run on time but give you money back if they are late. The hotels in Singapore, Tokyo and the Arabian Gulf surpass all rivals. Their national airlines provide unparalleled service, and even room enough to sit comfortably in economy.
Even the American government luxuriates abroad. Have you ever been an overnight guest in the visiting officers’ apartments of any major American military base abroad? (Not in a combat zone, to be sure!) I have. It’s like Air Force One. And you can bet that everything works, every luxury and comfort provided, every wish granted and whim gratified. What great fun for the little Obama girls! The rest of us usually fly economy.